Dan (Phillip Shaun DeVone) is a movie producer who barely lets other people get two words in edgewise. He demands that his coffee taste like coffee, despite hating the taste of coffee. He fires his last two assistants at the same time and tells them to give each other their dismissal envelopes, hoping that will “soften the sting” that way. He gets called into a meeting with a studio head who is furious over the new horror movie remake Dan is overseeing.
The property being remade is in the public domain, and a rival studio released an early teaser poster for their version. This poster is near identical to the one Dan’s studio put out recently. Dan has no good reason for how he missed the other studio’s announcement and is summarily fired.
At home, Dan’s dismissive of his wife (Julzie Gravel) and her artwork. He lies to her about the incident surrounding his firing. He hires a new painter to redo the painting of hers in the kitchen; turning a sunset over a lake into a blood and carnage-filled piece with sailors peeing themselves while being eaten by sharks.
“Dan recasts his entire life, hoping to create one that suits him…”
Over her objections, he then recasts her with someone new. Now, Dan recasts his entire life, hoping to create one that suits him. This does include coffee, which he still insists on drinking.
Doesn’t that plot synopsis sound like brilliant satire? Alternatively, if they play things over the top, possibly a farce? Well, whatever Replicator’s intention, it does not play out as either one of those things. Whether DeVone’s dismal lead performance or the god-awful directing is more to blame, I am uncertain.
Writer-director Stephen Florentine’s directorial style keeps the camera in the same fixed location, no matter the scene’s current setting. This makes Replicator dull to look at and means the movie lacks any sense of momentum. The overwrought dialogue does not help matters, nor does the fact that Dan is just awful in every imaginable way.
He is the only character that the audience spends any time with, being in absolutely every single scene. Given the 35-minute runtime, there is plenty of time to make this a redemption arc. A bastard’s life goes sideways, and he learns that you can’t just replicate everything in life, you need to accept that you might be the problem and change.
“…lacks the bite needed to make the ideas presented soar to their full potential.”
Now, to be fair to the film, that is not what it sets out to do and blaming a movie for things it doesn’t attempt is unjustifiable. There are several examples throughout cinema’s long history of movie’s about terrible people being terrible that work. A personal favorite is The Rules Of Attraction, directed by Roger Avary. Then there’s the crime film Intermission, which is exclusively populated by wayward souls who are only looking out for themselves.
Therefore, Replicator could still be successful, but it is not. DeVone is so charmless that it is almost impossible to buy him commanding any respect from anyone. He is so devoid of personality that the idea that he may be devolving into madness doesn’t take hold. Anyone else in the cast is so barely in the film that it is hard to appraise them accurately.
I liked the editing in Stephen Florentine’s Replicator and nothing else about it. The lead actor is terrible, the directing lacks flair, style, and any camera movement of any kind, the point of the movie is muddled, and the screenplay lacks the bite needed to make the ideas presented soar to their full potential.
Replicator (2018) Directed by Stephen Florentine. Written by Stephen Florentine. Starring Phillip Shaun DeVone, Julzie Gravel, Roger Nault.
2 Gummi Bears (out of 10)